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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Cat’s out of the bag in rematch

    Arizona guard Mustafa Shakur blocks a shot attempt by Oregon forward Mitch Platt during the first half of Arizonas 77-74 win Feb. 10 at Oregon. Shakur said the Wildcats defense is coming together now after allowing 68.6 points per game in its past five road games, all wins.
    Arizona guard Mustafa Shakur blocks a shot attempt by Oregon forward Mitch Platt during the first half of Arizona’s 77-74 win Feb. 10 at Oregon. Shakur said the Wildcats’ defense is coming together now after allowing 68.6 points per game in its past five road games, all wins.

    There are no more secrets left. By this point Arizona and Oregon know each other as well as they know how to put their pants on in the morning.

    Two fast-paced, heart-attack regular-season games later and the teams find themselves getting exactly what they wanted. An up-and-down team that mirrors the other, a senior point guard, a European big man (or in Maarty Leunen’s case, European style), high-scoring wings, and an inconsistent season.

    “”I don’t what they know, they probably know a little more about me than I know about myself,”” said UA forward Marcus Williams, who averaged 25 points and 10.5 rebounds in the two games.

    Williams, who called the matchup “”ideal,”” tore through Oregon in McKale Center, scoring a season-high 34 points, but Arizona blew a late lead and lost on Aaron Brooks’ runner.

    In the second game, the 6-foot-7 Williams matched up with Brooks and shut down the 6-foot point guard to 2-of-14 shooting from the field.

    Aside from the obvious NCAA Tournament seeding implications considering both teams finished at 11-7 in the Pac-10 and sport similar overall records, the third game means both teams have scouted each other to no end.

    If UA guard Mustafa Shakur’s charge drawn at Oregon was an example, the Wildcats were seeing Brooks driving right in their sleep.

    Meanwhile, the Ducks go into the game with mental pictures of UA forward Chase Budinger’s follow-through after the freshman scored 30 points against the Ducks in Eugene, Ore.

    “”It’s a good match-up, but it’s a tough match-up because they score the ball so well,”” said Oregon head coach Ernie Kent. “”(They) really hurt us in transition and killed us on the boards here.””

    Williams thinks it’s actually more beneficial to see a team for the first time.

    “”To be honest, coming in blind there’s not as much as scouting,”” Williams said. “”When you do a lot of homework on a team it makes a little bit difficult, but teams have to adjust and that’s what great players do, and obviously we’re not gonna hold them to zero points just because we know them.””

    Williams will almost certainly draw Brooks again. Brooks scored 21 points in McKale Center and his late-game heroics – putting a dagger in Arizona with two seconds left – are nothing new. Brooks made a game-winner Jan. 6 against then-No. 1 UCLA and game-clinching free throws Jan. 11 against ASU, and you can bet he’ll have the ball in his hands down the stretch.

    “”If he’s having a good night, it’s gonna be a long night,”” Williams said.

    The Ducks have had success in the Pac-10 Tournament before, getting to the semifinals last year as a No. 7 seed and upsetting Washington along the way before falling to California in double overtime. They also won the whole thing in 2003.

    Asked about the secrets to success, Kent exclaimed, “”I can’t give you those secrets. We’re going to In-N-Out Burger.””

    The Ducks’ four-guard lineup, with only forward Maarty Leunen (14 points, 14 rebounds in the first meeting Jan. 14) down low, will cause Arizona to go small, though UA head coach Lute Olson said forward Jordan Hill would still start. Against California March 1, Hill started but played sparingly against a similar guard-oriented Bears team that played with one post.

    But whether or not the grudge match is the ideal situation for both teams, Oregon and Arizona put themselves in the situation, each falling from high early-season rankings (Oregon won its first 14 games) and sliding midseason.

    “”I would have loved to play ASU or California but it is what it is,”” UA forward Ivan Radenovic said. “”We slipped up a couple of times, we were fifth in the conference, so we can’t run away from it.””

    Neither team can hide on its home court, either, although the regular season matchups proved playing at home had no effect.

    “”It’s a neutral court and everybody’s gonna have to come to play,”” Kent said. “”I got a feeling again it’s gonna come down to the wire.””

    If Shakur’s reaction to facing Brooks is any indication, the game should be another thriller.

    “”You see the smile on my face and you can elaborate on that,”” he said.

    And 1

    Kent tore his right rotator cuff in Eugene after bumping into an assistant coach, falling to the floor in pain and was staying there for about a minute before continuing to coach. Now Kent, who’s due for surgery in April, said he is still coaching in pain.

    “”You think about it because if you make that wrong motion and it hits you it’s a lot of pain, so you’re definitely going to think about what you can and cannot do,”” he said.

    “”I’m very aware of my movements over there, no question about it. You don’t see me putting up a lot of 3-point shot signals and waving at officials too much, and everything is done below the waist, certainly chest and lower; nothing too much above my head.””

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